So, where was I? Arriving in Abu Dhabi, having left Astana on Monday 22nd of October, early morning, to Almaty. See the last post for details on why the flight to China that night, didn’t have me on board. Anyway, the next day I was on an Etihad plane, very happy to finally be getting closer to Australia. Except Abu Dhabi is actually a bit East of Almaty, so I was going in the wrong direction, and the ticket price bought a tear to my eye. I just have to hope my earnings are enough this year to pay off Irina’s credit card quickly. I think I had about 10 hours to kill in Abu Dhabi airport, which wasn’t as boring or sleep inducing as I’d feared it would be. I had not been to the airport since 2005, when it was a just a few duty free shops and nothing to occupy your mind. After a McDonalds on arrival (it had been a long time since I had been in one 🙂 ), walking around the different terminals and eventually a Burger King (no bacon available, strangely enough), I found a bar next to a smoking room, so spent the rest of my time having some chips with a few Long Island Iced Teas, whilst reading another book. On to the next flight with no problems, barring some mid-air engine problems, I was now a mere 14 or so hours from meeting up with Alex and Mat!
Once the plane landed in Sydney, it was somehow the 25th of October, and once I convinced the Customs official that I wasn’t bringing in any food, drink or plant matter (they had my mini-suitcase on a table, I was sure they would open it up and I would have to explain I thought the limit was still 200 cigarettes (the limit is 50!), but I must have looked like I wasn’t the sort of person to bring in alien plants, so I walked out into the public area of the airport. Knowing that I would be getting twitchy from the lack of internet soon, I headed over to Vodafone’s counter and purchased an Australian Pay As You Go SIM card, re-jiggled the placement of SIMs in three different phones and grabbed a quick drink. In no time at all, Mat and Alex arrived, and after squealing and hugs (we’ll just pretend that was only Alex and not me as well 😉 ) we jumped in their Ute (an Australian term (meaning a utility vehicle with a flat tray at the back) I quickly grew to love) and even managed to get out of the airport grounds before the slightly obscene parking charges kicked in.
After so many months in Central Asia, it was great to be in a more friendly environment, where the driving wasn’t manic, people smiled at complete strangers, and I was going to finally get to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in years. We got back to Mat and Alex’s flat, and after a Kangaroo burger cooked on the barbecue sitting on the balcony, I finally started to unwind after four days of travelling and not much sleep. I’ll leave the details of Sydney, and Brisbane (I arrived there November 2nd I think?) for another post.